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Roseate Spoonbill

ROSEATE SPOONBILL ( Ajaja ajaja ) Image modified from wikipedia Original image by Jgocfoto Here we have one of those animals where the name doesn't really tell you what it is. Nowhere in the name is it apparent that this thing is a bird. The scientific name is also not helpful because it just looks like a Spanish-speaking person laughing. Appearance Roseate spoonbills are big, pink stork-shaped birds - that's right, they are discount flamingos. Normally, this would bother me. If somebody told me a flock of flamingos were headed my way and then a bunch of spoonbills showed up, I might be disappointed. However , I strongly appreciate that there is more than one species of big, pink bird in the world so I'm not counting this against them. I think it's fun, and I think they're pretty. Roseate spoonbills have some white and yellow feathers on them too, which offsets the pink and makes them fun in a different way from flamingos. Also, very importantly, their bills are sha
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Hawksbill Sea Turtle

  Image modified from wikipedia;  original image by Thierry Caro HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE ( Eretmochelys imbricata ) Okay so this one is going to be a little bit biased because hot golly gee god damn do I enjoy turtles. Especially  sea turtles. I just really think they're neat. Anyway, I'm going to try really hard not to give them undeserved points here, unlike my other reviews, where points are awarded based on extremely stringent criteria. Appearance Adult hawksbill turtles are, on average, one meter long, and weigh about 80 kg (roughly 3 ft and 150 pounds in freedom units). This seems pretty big for a turtle, but when compared to an absolute monster like the leatherback sea turtle, which grows up to 3 meters long and weighs as much as my old Kia, you realize that hawksbill turtles are the dainty lads of the sea, surpassing only the Ripley sea turtle in size. They are a rare combination of beautiful and adorable. Like, they have doofy little flippers and faces like grandmas, but

Amphibian Chytrid Fungus

AMPHIBIAN CHYTRID FUNGUS ( Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ) Image modified from Wikipedia. Original image by Alex Hyatt (CSIRO)       Hey, this isn't an animal. No matter. This is fine for the following reasons: 1) it's relevant for amphibian conservation, and amphibians are animals; 2) when you look at the diversity of all eukaryotic organisms, fungi and animals are close enough that they might as well be the same thing; 3) I already did one about a plant a while ago so who cares; 4) get off my back Appearance Take a second to picture a fungus. Unless you're a total fucking weirdo, the first thing that came to your mind was probably something like a mushroom, right? That makes sense, because most of the fungi we knowingly interact with on a regular basis are mushrooms (or yeasts, but don't get me started on fucking yeasts). They're big, they're visible, they're recognizable, and importantly, they don't move around a whole lot so you can get a pretty big

Taita African Caecilian

TAITA AFRICAN CAECILIAN ( Boulengerula taitana ) Image modified from Wikipedia. Original image by Milvus     When I was a kid, my family was friends with this other family, and one of the older sons had a tank of caecilians. These animals were very confusing to me, because "caecilian" and "Sicilian" are pronounced approximately the same way, and I couldn't figure out what limbless tropical amphibians had to do with Sicily. Nevertheless, I thought they were really cool and always asked if I could go look at them when we were visiting over there. And then I didn't think about them for like 15 years, until I was at university and learning about amphibians for my animal taxonomy course and saw the word written down and was like "ohhhhhhhhhh" Appearance Caecilians look like the love child of a snake and a slug. In the grand scheme of things, this is not that weird: right now the internet is all freaked out about carcinization, but only because it hasn&#

European Stag Beetle

 EUROPEAN STAG BEETLE ( Lucanus cervus ) Modified from wikipedia Original image by Simon A. Eugster Stag beetles are a whole group of insects with big fuck-off horns on their face. I'm gonna talk about the best-known species, Lucanus cervus , whose name means "Lucanian deer", and is sort of condescending to the literal deer that presumably live in Lucania. Appearance Stag beetles exhibit sexual dimorphism, which means the females look physically different from the males. Female stag beetles look pretty much like your average beetle - that is to say, pretty and shiny, but don't make you say "woah, what the hell is that thing???" The male stag beetle (pictured), on the other hand, looks absolutely ridiculous. Like, what do you have going on there, buddy? Pinchers? For pinching? Who are you going to pinch with those? What look like pinchers are actually grotesquely oversized mandibles - the part of the insect used for grabbing and breaking up food. They need re

Pointy-Nosed Blue Chimaera

POINTY-NOSED BLUE CHIMAERA ( Hydrolagus trolli ) Image modified from Wikipedia. Original image copyright Citron. Since it is Halloween month, I'm going to write about chimaeras, AKA "ghost sharks", so-called because they look really pale and creepy. There's not really anything else seasonally appropriate about them but whatever, ghost sharks. They're also sometimes called "ratfish", and individual species often have stupid common names like "rabbit fish" or "elephant fish". Nevermind that. Ghost sharks. OOOOOOoooOOOoooOOOOOO. Since one of the common names for "pointy-nosed blue chimaera" is apparently the much more frightening "abyssal ghostshark", that's what I'll be calling them for the rest of this review. Appearance Chimaeras are named after a monster in Greek mythology that was half lion, half goat, half dragon, and 150% badass. Apparently whoever named these things (Linnaeus, I guess?) thought they lo


ANKYLOSAURUS MAGNIVENTIS Image modified from Wikipedia. Original image by Tim Evanson Dinosaurs! Like most children, I devoted a sizable portion of my brain activity between the ages of 6 (when Lost World: Jurassic Park  came out) and 10 (when the light finally died from my eyes) to thinking about dinosaurs. For whatever reason, Ankylosaurus  was not one of my favourites or even one of the dinosaurs I thought about a lot (probably because it was not prominently features in the Jurassic Park movies). How do I feel about them now? Let's find out. Appearance Ankylosaurus  was a heavily armuored, and heavily armed, motherfucker with plates on the back and sides, and a club-like tail. Their skulls were covered with small bones, and they had horns on both the top and bottom of the head because having only one pair of horns is for dorks. The knobs on their bodies, as well as their clubs, were made of bony protrusions called osteoderms, which, incidentally, are present on moder